Monday, August 27, 2012

Three Books on Prayer

Round, Carol. Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press: 2012. ISBN: 978-1104497-3661-3 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4497-3662-0 (e)

A Compilation of Experience and Encouragement

Protestant theologians, both “mainline” and “evangelical,” are currently exploring many of the ancient spiritual disciplines that never entirely disappeared in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Three among these Christian disciplines are praying, reading and journaling.  These Christian spiritual practices are found as far back as the New Testament where the gospel writers, at the encouragement of others, have given us the words and prayers of Jesus now in written form.

Carol Round discovered prayer journaling, as she focused on the pain and confusion of an empty nest and a recent divorce. As the mornings passed, she found healing, growth, and potential in seeking deeper intimacy with God. She draws not only on her own experience, but also on the experiences of other women and saints of the past and present.

Based on those experiences, Round encourages and challenges her readers to record their spiritual journey in a daily prayer journal over a forty-day period. She reminds them: “Prayer is not complicated. We make it that way.”  Praying and journaling are not about word choice, but about being honest with God, inviting Him to be present and asking Him “What now? What lesson would You have me learn?” What message should I carry away to share with others?

Lessons learned over ten years of daily practice are shared in this book. There are also reminders such as “It is not about the tools [the pen or book used]. It is about the journey.” “Don’t worry about His showing up. He will.”  Suggestions are included like use a concordance to find scriptures relevant to your situation, prayerfully read the scripture and ask God how He can apply it in your life.

Journaling with Jesus invites the reader to come as they are and to raise the two questions Paul asked on the road to Damascus in Acts 9: “Who are You, Lord?” “What should I do, Lord?” There is a list of books on prayer journaling and a list of websites, with a proviso that websites and the internet are fluid; however, only one of sixteen URLs led nowhere. The scope of the book will be useful to the new or prospective prayer, spiritual, or Bible-study journalist, and affirming to those who are already practicing the disciplines.

Rather than offering pages of printed scripture and written prayers, this book concentrates on spiritual disciplines themselves. What is prayer? Why will journaling about scripture help to ease my pain? What do I need to get started? How do I talk to God? How do I know if he is listening? How do I prepare to meet God? The author’s style and manner invite and let the reader look over the writer’s shoulder with impunity and promise, with commitment and covenant, with action and accountability.

There is a companion workbook for Journaling with Jesus coming out in a few weeks called The 40-Day Challenge. It is free as a .pdf file until September 6 at her blog: www.carolaround.comRound also has two books compiled from her faith-based columns syndicated in twelve Oklahoma newspapers and one online publication,  She also has two other books:
A Matter of Faith (2005) and Faith Matters (2009), both published by Buoy Up Press.

Martin, Christine Brooks. Pray What God Says Kearney NE:  Morris Publishing, ©2010. available through

Effective Scriptural Prayer

The intent of the guide is to reintroduce just one of many keys to effective prayer, using scripture to garner the words of God to access divine response and a greater relationship with God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, with the enabling assistance of the Holy Spirit.

As we experience various emotions throughout our life experiences there is a “cry” or sound from our spirit that will command or demand a response from something or someone greater than ourselves. “The cry of every man’s heart is for provision, protection, health and well-being. We require direction, revelation, truth, justice and more.” That heart cry can take many forms as they are found throughout scripture; the result of the divine response from God is peace and joy.

Martin follows with the lies of Satan we hear most often, and allows the scripture to speak the truth. “God has made a provision for His creation. It is the words of His holy scriptures. When we choose to read, hear, learn and speak the Word of God it is able to save us, deliver us, and protect us from lies and liars.” She then explores the meanings of “truth” as it is found in the Word of God. Whether we choose to embrace lies or truth, “what we take to heart rules and governs our emotions and affections.”

Communion and union with God through praying His word allows us to get God’s attention and “invites Him to intervene in the affairs of the earth and your life.” “Prayer facilitates the manifestation of God’s will and purpose.” Prayer establishes HOPE: Hearing God through His word, prayer and your experiences. Obedience to His word and the pastor He has designated to shepherd over you. God expects you to pray without ceasing and to expect His response. You will receive HOPE: God’s hearing ear, open access to His presence, peace while you wait for His response to your prayers, and eternal results. She also provides such mnemonics for TRUST.  Praying God’s word allows Him to transform, prepare, build and establish your spirit in His presence.

Praying God’s word can take the form of intercession or meditation. The last chapters of the book provide topical scriptures for preparing oneself to be transformed and consecrated so you can achieve spiritual growth and strength to trust and forgive, and exhibit wisdom and the fruits of the Spirit in your life. There are also scriptures for those things that most affect our personal spiritual lives: family, finances, career, health, and emotions. She also provides scriptures for our relationship through God that affects church growth, nations, leaders and missions. What she calls a glossary contains no definitions, but provides an alphabetical topical index with page numbers

Martin, Christine Brooks. Talk to God with Affirmations of Faith. Seattle: CreateSpace, ©2011
 Scriptural Prayers available through

While Prayers That Avail Much went to three volumes, there are still a number of unique intercessory prayer topics in Talk to God with Affirmations of Faith like prayers for “Barrenness, Insecurity, and Backsliders.” Brooks uses the same method and resonates doctrinally with Germaine Copeland. Both agree that using Scripture, or “the language of the kingdom,” and rooting their prayers in the Word of God, will make more effective intercessors.

Brooks sees “the language of the kingdom” as the primary tongue of those who are believers. Using scriptural synonyms gives one protection from Satan’s ability to transform perception. This also gives one access to the affirmations and promises of God’s Word, allowing us to “Say, Believe, and Receive.” Her prayers focus on positive outcomes rather than negative situations, giving one the ability to switch from “victim to victorious.”

Rather than a book of formulaic prayer, I expected a treatise on prayer based on the Apostle’s Creed and other Affirmations of Faith written through the centuries. This is not that book. Instead, there are scriptural prayers primarily focused on grace and benefits for doing God’s work and will.

There was inconsistency in headings and subheadings so it was not always clear which prayers followed one another deeper into spiritual growth or attainment of health, wealth, or God’s blessings. Other concerns I had as I read included equating all mistakes as sin and a title but no prayer for physical abuse but a lengthy one on emotional abuse.

All prayers for “affliction” (the majority of the book) are written in first person singular (I), and only a short section labeled “Intercession” including prayers for church growth, missions, nations, and leaders in authority written in first person plural (we).  It seems that if intercession is the purpose, following the method of Prayers That Avail Much one step further by leaving spaces for names to be written in and writing in the third person using he, she, and they would make it more usable.

While her first book Pray What God Says provides quoted scripture, this book provides the method for using them to make a positive outcome. Martin is still quoting scripture but has placed it in prayers.

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